Shula’s Athletic Club—named for Don Shula, the NFL Hall of Famer who coached the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl trophy in 1972—doesn’t find it hard to fill its sprawling 40,000 square feet of space. A cardio room with more than 50 pieces of equipment, a spinning center, weight rooms, fitness-class studios, and basketball courts spread through the facility, luring athletes for independent workouts and personal-training sessions. Dozens of weekly fitness classes range from calorie-burning Zumba workouts and Vinyasa-yoga sessions to spin classes that help students practice for the day they have pedal-powered cars.
The athletic club also accommodates older exercisers with aquatic aerobics and seated Silver Sneakers workouts, and it keeps kids busy with confidence-building youth sports programs. Young legs run over a new 60-yard athletic field or nine lighted tennis courts where kids whack tennis balls and low-flying hot-air balloons with rackets.
The burnt-orange walls of Parrillada el Gaucho echo the welcoming heat of the grills in the kitchen. There, steaks acquire charred stripes before they reach diners in several cuts, from rib eye to T-bone. Uruguayan-style parrillada meals layer impressive amounts of meats and garnishes on pans, often piling enough skewers of shrimp and crisp sausages for two. This traditional South American style of cooking typifies the warm, convivial venue, whose dining room is decorated with horseshoes and ranching artifacts. Though steaks remain its most popular offering, the menu also boasts entrees such as chicken parmesan and custom-mixed pastas, with housemade flan to bring meals to an authentically sweet conclusion. Party packages, late hours, and Friday-night musical performances conspire with tender bites, luring festive groups to tables without coaxing trails of confetti.
Wine racks the color of warm wheat chaff crisscross the walls at Holleman’s Restaurant, the sleek bodies of the bottles reflecting servers as they slip through the dining room. The vessels, stamped with labels from France, Argentina, and Italy shimmer beneath visions of Black Angus steaks, fresh pasta, and racks of New Zealand lamb. From the kitchen drift the scents of garlic-and-rosemary demi-glace and cognac-and-peppercorn sauce. In that busy room, New York strip steak crackles against the open-flame grill and chefs busily mold crabcakes.
Beneath wrought-iron chandeliers, the high-topped tables are covered in crisp white cloths like ghosts appearing in traffic court. On some evenings, the smooth twang of an electric guitar fills the room, flitting softly beneath a crooning singer.
Beneath the colorful toques on their heads, hibachi chefs flip and sauté meat and vegetables on their tabletop grills, smiling as they conjure the occasional bursts of flame during lively cooking routines. That’s just one scene at SooWoo Japanese Steakhouse—across the restaurant, sushi chefs slice ribbons of fish and vegetables and roll them into California and spicy tuna rolls. Basketball fans can celebrate the city’s 2012 NBA championship with the specialty Miami Heat roll, which includes slices of shrimp tempura, crab, and cream cheese. SooWoo also whips up Korean dishes, such as bulgogi and pork belly.
Flamma pairs the brisk elegance of waterfront dining with a robust menu of richly seasoned meats. Diners glide up via boat, car, or ghost horse to sup on the flavorful foodstuffs, with exotic entrees including the stew-like fish moqueca ($24), seared ahi tuna ($25), and Hawaiian pork chops ($19). More traditional steakhouse fare includes a center-cut filet mignon ($29) and New York strip ($27). Visitors with indecisive tongue brains will delight at the full Rodizio ($46.90) option, which merits entrance to a ceaseless parade of meats hewn fresh from the skewer to the diner's plate. This feast includes options such as brazilian sausage, flank steak, leg of lamb, and chicken parmesan drumsticks, which can be paired with selections from the eatery's vast wine cellar or sips from a carefully concealed flask of porpoise sweat.
Legends Tavern & Grille pairs its menu of eclectically inspired pub cuisine and hearty finger foods with a selection of craft beers from foreign and domestic breweries. Although the cooks forge familiar comfort foods, such as beer-battered Alaskan cod, they also use culinary creativity to keep the menu fresh and their spatulas motivated. Burgers come topped with everything from goat cheese to mojo pulled pork, and housemade crab cakes are served with a roasted-red-pepper rémoulade. In addition to the food and drink menus, the tavern entices patrons with special events throughout the week, including live entertainment on Friday and pub trivia on Wednesday.
Doma Polo Bistro is a Buenos Aires–style bistro that pays homage to the sport of kings, both in its decor and in its menu of proteins hearty enough to replenish famished polo players. In reality, it might be more likely to fill the bellies of another kind of athlete—the Miami Heat play just across Biscayne Boulevard at American Airlines Arena. The most outrageously carnivorous option available to mighty appetites may be the picada de parrilla, a trove of grilled skirt steak, blood sausage, chorizo, golden sweetbreads, veal kidneys, and beef or chicken empanadas, served with an ode to meat recited tableside. Even in less decadent feasts, the Argentine taste for beef makes itself known via rich stews and subtly spiced salads.
As the wait staff—which the Miami NewTimes called “extremely attentive, friendly, and timely”—help them rifle through the menu, Argentine transplants and other Miamians alike dine in an enormous space built to resemble an elegant barn. Below raw wooden rafters, leather booths are cut into stalls that are lit softly by copper fixtures. On one wall, some 2,500 wine bottles bearing more than 150 different labels peek out from a metal grid of cubbies.